Mira, Aug 2003, 6.50
In Clifton Creek, Texas, the oil rig explosion on the Davis ranch leaves four men dead and one individual in critical condition fighting for his life. Because of the charring of the corpses and the severe burns of the survivor no one knows who lived. Five women huddle together in the County memorial Hospital waiting to know whether their spouses are alive or not.
Widower Helena Whitworth married J.D. and in spite of their adult children from previous marriages they have been happy together. Italian Anna Montano is the wife of rancher Davis, but he is aloof towards her treating her like an outsider while being nice to her brother. Bar girl Crystal loves her spouse Shelby Howard though he treats her as his trophy wife. Randi had planned to leave her husband Shelby's nephew Jimmy to try to make in the country music world. Schoolteacher Meredith Allen had wondered when her spouse, Kevin, a former high school football hero, will realize that his life did not end at eighteen.
Though this is a strong tale, THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY will feel a bit disappointed because readers learn rather quickly who survived. Guilt, shock, and “wishes” are not fully explored though the story line looks deeply at grief and survival following one person making a life for herself and her ailing husband with the help of the widows. Jodi Thomas furbishes a powerful character study that will hook fans of women's fiction, but though the novel will be well received, readers will feel it could have more.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner